The Cup – Part 1

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 1 Cor. 12:13

This scripture harks back to the Lord’s Supper and its implications for the church. Notice in particular that last line. We have all been made to drink into one Spirit. Drinking into one Spirit is a command.

This was exactly how the Lord Jesus administered the last Passover.

“27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Mat. 26:27-28)

Mark 14:23 says the same thing.

“… And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it.”

Notice the disciples drank from one cup. Jesus made them to drink from one cup.

I happen to know for a fact that many churches do not administer the Lord’s Supper – and especially the cup – the way the Lord did it. In most churches, cups are used instead of the single cup that the Lord used at the Last Supper. Each member uses their own cup. For this reason, in Africa, churches even import whole sets of cups from the West.

This deviation from scripture seems petty, but it is deeply telling – and it has far-reaching consequences for the church.

The reasons for this deviation, of course, are plain carnal. People believe they are so much more refined, cultured, and wiser than Jesus was! And some reasons are even darker. People wouldn’t want to associate with certain classes of people. They wouldn’t want to put their mouths to the same vessel that an old hag, or a dirty or uncouth brother or sister has drank from. In any case, today there are so many infections, who knows? One might pick up something from a sick person! People are worried. They are worried for their health.

Ha! What a bitter joke. All this signifies our deep ignorance of spiritual things. It reveals, not only our lack of revelation, but also our profound deficiency of spiritual truths.

Allow me to speak on behalf of God here. God wouldn’t care if half the church were suffering from tuberculosis, pneumonia or whatever. He is the God that healeth us. Where is faith? But, even more importantly, where is the revelation of the things of the Spirit? Where is the revelation of the cross in our lives?

And, above all, where is the love of God?

If there is one area where the devil has effected a total coup against the church, it is in the partaking of the Lord’s Supper. We divide the cup in church, and Satan is very happy because he knows we do not have the vaguest idea of what that cup means. We do not understand its importance.

But the cup is not supposed to be divided. It is not to be divided because it signifies an important spiritual truth; probably the most important truth of all. The cup that Jesus commanded His disciples to drink (of which they drank all from the same cup) signifies our identification with Christ in His sufferings and death. Partaking of the cup at the Lord’s Supper means we drink from the same cup that Jesus drank.

Remember when James and John went to Jesus and asked that one of them sit on His right side and the other on the left in His glory (Mk. 10:37)? What did Jesus answer them? Jesus asked them,

“can ye drink of the cup that I drink of?” (v.38)

He was talking of partaking of His sufferings. To have a shot at sitting anywhere near where Jesus would be seated in His glory, these guys would have to drink from the same cup that Jesus drank from.

In 1 Cor. 11:26 we read:

“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.”

The Lord’s Supper is a powerful declaration by the church that we are willing to daily die to self.

Notice in our key scripture above that we have all been made to drink into one Spirit. And the Bible qualifies the “all” by stating,

“whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free”.

There is no Jew or Gentile. There is no gentleman and a commoner. If we have all been made to drink into one Spirit, how so much easier ought it to be for us to drink from one cup in church? How can we claim to be able to partake of the sufferings of Christ while in church we cannot even partake of one cup?

We all who have been called by God have all been called to partake of the sufferings of Christ. And the single cup that we all drink from during the partaking of the Lord’s Supper signifies our understanding of this deep spiritual truth.

In the second part of this deposition, we will look at yet another important aspect of the Lord’s Supper: the one-ness of the Body of Christ.

Circumcision vs The Cross – Part 1

11 Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.

12 As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.

13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.

14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

15  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. Gal. 6:11-18

This post is a progression of my last post. I am sorry it has taken me so long to write it. But I pray it will bless whoever reads it.

Seeing that the Bible is God’s Word written by His own hand through men who were sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, we must be careful how we interpret scripture.

Let us take verse 11 above, for example. Let us try and examine what the Apostle Paul means by a “large” letter; and, secondly, “with mine own hand”. The answer to this question is important to our understanding the rest of this portion of scripture.

Does Paul, in verse 11, mean he wrote this epistle in unfamiliarly large script? Or that he wrote the letter using capital letters? And why add “with mine own hand”?

The keyword here is “emphasis”. Paul here was talking of the emphasis that he placed on whatever he was telling the Galatians in. And, considering they had waded knee-deep into circumcision (made with hands), he was emphasizing, not only the futility, but also the danger of this exercise in their lives, for he says in Galatians 5:4:

“Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”

This danger is as real in our modern times as it was in Paul’s time. It is just as we saw in our last post about the futility of the modern idea that making a pilgrimage to Israel had anything to do with our spiritual journey. It is a spiritually dangerous idea.

Am I saying Christians should not visit the land of Israel? Hardly. But religion as we know it today is, to a large extent, man’s way of evading the cross of Jesus Christ, for our sole calling is to suffer with Christ. And this is the very purpose of the revelation of the cross in our hearts: to enable us to partake of the sufferings of Christ. And what, pray, are these sufferings?

The Christians sufferings incorporates dying to the worldly lusts in us. The cross crucifies the world to the believer, and the believer to the world. And that, in a nutshell, is what it means to be spiritual; and the aim of our salvation is to be spiritual.

[Beating out the sunflower harvest in Singida]

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Greed And How To Overcome It

9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called… 1 Tim. 6:9-12

Notice verses 9 and 10: “… they that will be rich”. These words refer to those who want to become rich. If a believer wants to be rich in this world, he is playing with fire. No, no, no, it does not say that being rich is a sin; it is the desire to become rich that is wrong. It is this desire that God is fighting against. The Bible says that such a desire will make one to “fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.”

In the epistles of the Apostle Paul, there are two things which he expressly tells the church to flee from: FORNICATION and IDOLATRY (1 Cor 6:18; 10:14; 1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22). I have capitalized both words because these are words that no man should miss seeing.

The two greatest sins that have plagued the charismatic, Pentecostal church throughout history are idolatry and fornication. Idolatry refers to the worship of things. Therefore, although it may refer to the worship of idols as the Roman Catholics and other mainstream sects do, and as we see Paul explaining in 1 Cor. 10:18-23, yet, under the New Covenant, idolatry principally refers to covetousness, the love of worldly things, including money. The Apostle Paul states this clearly in Colossians 3:5:

“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry…”

In simple terms, idolatry, which is covetousness, is greed.

Idolatry and fornication go hand in hand. Once the body has been fed well and there appears to be peace all around, lusts which had long been submerged under the drought of hunger, lack of money and lack of status, gain strength and begin demanding to be satisfied, too. That is what we see with Sodom and Gomorrah. The Bible states that their land was “even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt…” – Gen. 13:10.

Sodom was an incredibly rich country!

These were the same circumstances that set the stage for the tragedy that befell King David in the case of Uriah’s wife. It is worldly contentment.

In today’s world, we may not have literal lands that are like “even as the garden of the LORD”, but we have money. Money can give us everything we want. But money also has hidden dangers. We can very easily grow fond of it. And this mindset can sweep us off our spiritual feet in an instant.

The prosperity gospel that is preached today spawns many, many dangers to the believer.

I often wonder at the fact that every high-profile TV preacher that I have seen or read is a victim of either covetousness, fornication or both. Ever since Oral Roberts introduced the false “seed” gospel and ever since the days of the infamous televangelist Jim Bakker, who personified excessive lust for material consumption, including sexual perfidy, the graph curve of these two influences in preachers’ lives has only continued to steepen. Nearly every high-profile TV preacher, past and present, is a victim: Kenneth Hagin, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, John Osteen, Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, Robert Tilton, Creflo Dollar, Ted Haggard, Paula White, Mike Murdoch, Ed Young, Joseph Prince, T. D. Jakes, Eddie Long, Jesse Duplantis, Paul Crouch, Rick Warren, T.B. Joshua and others.

At least these are the most prominent faces on Christian TV here in Africa.

I am not saying that these men have never loved the Lord. What is clear is that they were/are unaware of the dangers of the prosperity gospel that they embrace. They had never known what it means to identify with Christ in His sufferings and death. But God is a merciful God and I am sure that He has restored some of them.

Another evil that the love of money brings in a person’s life is pride. In Tanzania, people have a saying: “Greet people, your money will end!” It is a rebuff for the arrogance associated with the rich, who normally tend to ignore the lower classes.

But this worldly “richie” attitude has also crept into the church. I have heard some of the most arrogant and inane things coming from the lips of some of these very same TV preachers. This is the result of pride.

The problem, of course, is that these preachers never had any revelation of the cross of Jesus Christ. They were unaware of what the cross can do in their lives in terms of mortifying the lusts of the flesh in them. They are unable, therefore, to represent the true gospel of Jesus Christ, which says:

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mat. 16:24)

But, the gospel of the cross of Christ is the light at the end of the tunnel. In the midst of all this darkness, the gospel of the cross is the very gospel that Christ is revealing to the church again today. I say again because it was there in the early church, but it became submerged under the teachings of men who have always defended the flesh.

Notice verse 12, which says:

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.”

God has called us to lay hold on eternal life. That is a call that is in direct contradiction to the race to become rich. We ought to desire and pray for the revelation of the cross of Jesus in our hearts. This is what will make us to represent the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Foundation of our Faith – the Pauline Doctrine (Pt. 5)

This post is very long, but I encourage you to read it to the very end… I am sure it will prove helpful.

The Apostle Peter says about Paul that in his epistles Paul talked about the same things that he himself had written about but he concludes by saying that in Paul’s epistles there were some things hard to be understood…” (2 Peter 3:16). If Peter could say that, then I also can safely admit that there are many things that I don’t understand in Paul’s letters. What is clear from Apostle Paul’s letters, however, is that he desires for every believer to arrive at the place of full and perfect knowledge of the Risen Christ – in other words, what was accomplished at the Cross – and to walk in that power of resurrection, the power that raised Christ from the dead. That should be the desire of each one of us.

In concluding this topic about the revelation or gospel that the Apostle Paul received, let me reiterate my contention that all the Apostles saw a revelation of the Risen Christ, but that the Apostle Paul received a vastly ‘superior’ revelation of Jesus than the rest. In other words, he understood what Christ did on the Cross more than the rest. (I am sure by now we all realize that we are not talking about a vision of Jesus – here we are way, way deeper than that!)

Romans chapters 9 through 11 makes us to begin to understand the special “wisdom” given to Paul. In talking about the Israelites in relation to the gospel he says that “blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” (Rom. 11:25)

The Jews were God’s special people and will always be, because the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. They are God’s chosen people, Israelites;  to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;  Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.  Amen.” (Rom. 9:4-5)

This scripture is very important in appreciating the special place that the Israelites have in God’s eyes. Note the Godly things that they have been guardians of through the ages. The Israelis are an incredibly special people. But we are not talking of that now.

What is important is that the ‘blindness’ that has now come upon them was prophesied long ago. We do not have time to look into these prophecies now but we can look into the reason for this blindness.

This blindness occurred because God wanted to do something that, out of the goodness of His heart, He had planned on doing since before Time began: to bring eternal salvation to all mankind.

Firstly, God had a score to settle with sin or the Devil, or whoever; I am not very sure here. What is clear is that sin had entered the world, and God had to do something about it. Unfortunately, His beloved people the Israelites happened to be sinners just like everybody else. (“All have sinned” – Rom. 5:12). That put the Israelites in God’s line of fire. Too bad.

Secondly, it is true that He had used the Israelites as His pack horse through the ages, as we have seen in Romans 9, and He would surely reward them; but the Good News of salvation was for everyone. In other words, the Israelites were God’s elect people in one sense, and in another they were not. Salvation was meant for everyone. There was no compromise there. Why?

“Is he the God of the Jews only?  is he not also of the Gentiles?  Yes, of the Gentiles also.”

“And so blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” In other words, God would not allow Jerusalem’s eyes to be opened until every Gentile in the world had heard the gospel. God put the Israelites to sleep until He had finished showing all His goodness to the Gentiles. Probably He feared they would throw a tantrum if they realized He was about to share their “cake” with strangers. Whatever the case, He put them to sleep nonetheless. That word there, “part”, however, indicates that not all Israel was been blinded; some were allowed to see, chief of whom was Paul the Apostle.

(As you can see from his doctrine and lifestyle, when Paul ‘saw’ he did not turn selfish. On the contrary, he gave his life as the Lord also had given His. This is crucial to our understanding of the Pauline doctrine).

God also wanted the Jews to know that they were sinners just like everybody else. You see, man has a will, and the will of sinful man is enmity against God. If man’s will was in line with God’s will, God would have no trouble with us. But we have a rebellious will. God wanted them to know that the only way He could have a truly satisfactory relationship with man was for man to put off his (rebellious) will and to put on God’s will. This was exemplified in the Bible by Christ’s obedience.

Our understanding of the need for the Cross is certainly getting clearer here.

But probably the most important fact in all this was that God wanted to stamp His sovereignty over all Creation. As we just said, man also has his will. God wanted everyone, particularly the Jews, to know that He is a Sovereign God. If any man wanted to partake of His nature, he would have to let go his will and submit to God’s rule.

To give an illustration of God’s sovereignty: One day, someone called Job, whom the Bible itself attested to as being perfect and upright was put through some suffering by God, and in his anguish he contested with God why He would let an upright man like him to suffer. God told him, “You cannot question me. I am God. I do as I please.”

Job was stunned! This perfect and upright man realized he had never really known God. He said, I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear:  but now mine eye seeth thee.   Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:5-6! In his perfectness, Job grovelled before God! What a challenge to us! Surely, we could not compare ourselves with Job! How much more should we humble and cry out to God for mercy!

May God have mercy on the Jews, but may He have even more mercy on us believers. I believe that of all the confused and blind and ungrateful people in the world today it is we Christian believers whom God has graciously chosen and called into His Kingdom. I really don’t care much who you think you are – and I am sure God doesn’t, either – but that is the truth, my friend. In spite of all the wonderful proclamations we make (“I love you, Jesus!”, etc.) and all the beautiful songs we sing, the things we do and the attitudes we have towards God and our fellow brethren and mankind in general (and even animals and everything else) accuse us of these things.

And this is all centered on the kind of heart that we have. All our negative attitudes and actions are the result of a rotten heart. The Bible calls it an uncircumcised heart.

And this is where Paul, or rather, the doctrine that he carried comes in. While the Jerusalem Team of elders were busy thinking about circumcising believers in the flesh, Paul was being taught about the circumcision of the heart!

We have a heart problem, and the Pauline doctrine is the solution to that problem. This was the revelation that Paul caught: how the power of the resurrection life of Christ in us would transform us and make us into the image of Jesus Christ; how it would break the power of sin over our lives; how it would give us the very heart of Christ; how it would enable us to walk in the perfection and fullness of the Godhead Himself… which is perfect, unselfish love.

That was why he preached Christ crucified, “the power of God”! There is power in the Cross, to not just save us in the elementary sense, but to bring a full realization of the Godhead in us, as Paul says in Colossians 2: “For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;  That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;  In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

In order for this resurrection life to manifest itself in our lives we will need to first take our cross and follow Jesus, just as Jesus Himself said in Matthew 16:24-25: “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.   For whosoever will save his life shall lose it:  and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” There is no other way to experience the resurrection life apart from partaking of the sufferings and death of Christ.

In other words, there are two kinds of lives: the physical, material life; and the spiritual life. If we want to gain the latter, we have to lose the former.

That was why Paul said he would only boast in the Cross of Christ, by which the world was crucified to him and he to the world (Galatians 6:14). He rejoiced in the work of grace that God would do in him as he partook of Christ’s sufferings. That was why he did not want to be set free of them. He says in 2 Corinthians 12:9: “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” He was talking about partaking of the sufferings. He wanted to be identified with Christ’s sufferings and death so he could partake also of the resurrection life.

It was a deep revelation indeed that the Apostle Paul received, and we can hardly compare it with much of today’s flippant, materialistic-oriented ‘gospels’. If any preacher mentions Paul today, it is hardly in the depth that he is revealed in the Bible.

Paul’s gospel reveals that there is far more to salvation than just saying the sinners’ prayer. Through experience I personally have also come to know that you cannot go far with this prayer or the initial experience of salvation. Much more needs to happen, and this is where the Apostolic doctrine of the revelation of the Cross of Christ comes in.

Instead of being merely (or largely) religious people, God purposed that through a revelation of the Cross in our hearts, and our identification with it, we would show forth to the world and to spiritual forces in the heavenlies the manifold grace of God, and that through the death of sinful flesh, we would shut the mouths of God’s enemies by living a holy, spiritually fulfilling and victorious life.

That has been God’s plan all along. He could have shut His enemies’ mouths any other way without our involvement, I am sure. But He loved us so much that He wanted to make us a part of that victory! What a grace, what an honor, what a privilege! And in order to involve us, He did what in our wildest dreams we could not have imagined – He sent His only begotten Son Jesus to die on the Cross for us. He then went a step further and chose us, and then gave us the grace to believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection. And finally He came to live in us by His Holy Spirit so that we could grow into mature sons and daughters in the Spirit by dying to the body of the flesh.

Imagine the grace that God has personally bestowed on us in all these things. It is He who chose us and caused us to believe! It is He who touched our hearts! And for us Gentiles, we who were so unworthy, He did us a double honor by rejecting His people Israel so He could accept us!

I don’t know about you, but I consider myself less than a dead dog in God’s eyes. The fact that He could shower me with such undeserved favor staggers me. I am awed beyond comprehension…

Dear brethren, do we realize our position? Do we comprehend the magnitude of the grace that has come upon us – that, more than simply dying for our sins, Christ has come to live in us in the fullness of His resurrection life?

Let us tremble and fear before this awesome God, and before His awesome plan, even as we rejoice with holy thanksgivings.

Today’s Christians are not known to be very fearful or even reverent towards God. Believe me, I have seen Christians – preachers and laymen alike – doing the most offensive and detestable things, in the Name of Jesus!

The Apostle Paul signs off with this warning: “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God:  on them which fell, severity;  but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness:  otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” Rom. 11:22

Let us fear God, and not take God lightly. But, beyond warning us against these church antics that go on today, for the truly serious Christian this is a warning to not ignore the Pauline revelation. If we fail to enter into the fullness of the knowledge of Christ, and to show forth that fruit of transformation in our lives, we have renounced the Apostolic doctrine that was revealed to Paul, and our Christianity is, quite simply, ‘another gospel’. And yet… the New Testament gospel we are called to live is the gospel that the Apostle Paul carried and preached.

The Foundation of our Faith – the Pauline Doctrine (Pt. 2)

Let us pause once more and consider the fact that the Apostle Paul, who was no fool, was willing to undergo the same sufferings and death that Jesus underwent in order that the gospel he received could be birthed in men and women’s lives! Why would he want to do this? He realized that the entirety of God’s plan for humankind was bound up in this revelation, and he was willing to pay the price to make that experience become a reality in other people’s lives.

In the Bible Paul does not come out as a very ‘loving’ person, in the way we view love in our fallen human perspective. But let it be known that next to Jesus, the Apostle Paul probably manifested the greatest love for us that any man could manifest. We can praise and thank God for the Apostle Paul!

Lastly, let us consider the fact that Paul himself was a former seminary student, a man who had studied under Gamaliel, the foremost instructor of the Hebrew religion of his day. Gamaliel was a man of great wisdom and integrity. We can therefore conclude that what Gamaliel taught Paul was sound religion, enough to make one a devout man or woman. Yet Paul, then known as Saul, remained a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious” (1 Tim. 1:13), until he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. In other words, Gamaliel’s theology, although it made Paul a deeply religious man, did not change his character in the least. He held the Torah in one hand and a sword in the other. Gamaliel’s gospel was a powerless gospel.

In Galatians chapter 1 Paul is talking of his experience on the road to Damascus and onwards. His experiences before the Damascus experience have no place in his life any more.

After Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus he was commissioned to go preach the gospel. The fact that the Apostle Paul received the gospel which he preached by revelation is one that cannot be compromised and whose importance cannot be over-stated. I think I need to repeat that. This reality is one that cannot be compromised, nor can it be over-stated. It is of such grave spiritual importance that the Apostle says that if he or an angel from heaven were to come and preach any other gospel than that which he preached to them, let him be accursed.

“I received it from no man”. It is from this perspective alone that we can hope to effectively express the gospel of Jesus Christ, otherwise we reduce the gospel of Jesus Christ to the level of mere religion, mere education.

It is a telling statement indeed of the times we are living in to see how spiritual matters are being taken so lightly and how easily strange doctrines are being injected into the gospel of Jesus Christ. May the fear of God grip our hearts!

The Pearl.

The Bible tells the story of Jacob, and how he wrestled with an angel of God throughout the night.

“And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him” Gen. 32:25

Jacob had been running from the Lord all these years, but here he comes face to face with God, and he has to make a decision: he can continue running, or he can allow God to touch his life and change him.

I believe something must have made Jacob to stop and make the decision he made that night. Jacob was tired of running, all right. But more than that, something profound happened to him that night. I believe that deep down in his spirit Jacob received a new understanding from the Lord; a new revelation. He must have seen something that made him want to receive a new blessing from God.

In the materialistic age we live one might well wonder why Jacob, who was so rich materially, would want another blessing from the Lord…!

But, perhaps, it was a different blessing that he now desired, born out of this new understanding that he had from God. A blessing not of material things, but a blessing, probably, of character, a spiritual blessing. Suddenly, most likely, Jacob saw in his spirit far into the future, and the blessing that Jesus would bring into the world through His death on the Cross. And, all of a sudden, Jacob”s priorities were turned upside down. Now it was not Rachel or Joseph who mattered most to him. Nor was it his vast wealth. Now he wanted to get hold of that far, far away blessing – distant indeed, but exceedingly rich. It did not matter to him that he would die long before that blessing would materialize. Somehow, he knew, he would inherit it one day, and it was worth waiting for. It was an eternal treasure – and immeasurably, incomparably bright and clear and true.

It was a spiritual blessing that Jacob saw, and he wanted it infinitely more than all his earthly possessions.

And he was willing to pay the price that he realized he needed to pay in the spirit. I am sure that at that particular time he did not see anything good in the flesh. He did not see cars or houses or the good things that we have today. Rather, I believe he saw the sufferings of Christ. And he was ready to identify with them. He was willing to pay the ultimate  price – he told the angel, “Name your price, but I am not letting you go till you bless me!” He wanted that vision more than anything else in his life.

What God did in order to change Jacob’s character was to dislocate his thigh – probably so he would not have the strength to run again.

The true gospel of Jesus Christ puts us ‘out of joint’. It breaks our strength. It breaks our pride. We grovel and scramble on our knees to get at that spiritual treasure, for only that brokenness can bring the reality of that treasure into our lives. All our pride, our reliance is gone. After Jacob’s thigh was put ‘out of joint’ he had no more pride left in him. Probably he had a certain way of walking before, but he would no longer walk that way. Henceforth he would walk with a limp, for the Bible says his sinew “shrank”.

Humbling, indeed.

In the new covenant we are no longer going to wrestle with an angel, but through Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross we understand how we, too, will need to identify our lives with His suffering and death in order to partake of that same blessing that Jacob partook of. That treasure is the life of Christ in us.

The Apostle Paul, more than any other man, received that revelation – and also knew that brokenness in his flesh. I believe he also, just like Jacob, wanted to do some running. He says that he prayed three times to God to remove the thorn in his flesh. But God told him, “My grace is sufficient, for my strength is perfected in your weakness.

If Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord the whole night; and if Paul prayed three times for God to intervene on his behalf, then we can be sure that it is not an easy journey to becoming spiritual men and women. But this is the road we have been called to take, and we must gladly persevere in it.

Paul says: “Most gladly therefore will I glory in infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Cor. 12:9

That is not an easy road to take, by any standards. But the reward is priceless. In fact, to put a better perspective to it, the reward is not something that can be explained in human terms; it is too profoundly rich for that. It can only be understood in our spirits.

It all depends, however, on whether we have seen that priceless pearl in our spirit, and are willing to pay the price. The price, as we said, is dying with Christ.

What a challenge to us today, that Jacob, so far down the line in time, could see the very thing that we live with, walk with and sleep with today… What is that thing? Oh! I bet you and I hardly know it well enough… if we knew it we would not be the men and women we are today…

May the Lord reveal it to us like He revealed it to Jacob!